Soft and chewy with pretty, crinkly tops, these lemon cookies are sweet with just a touch of tartness and just the right touch of lemon flavor. Recipe includes a how-to video!
When I was pregnant with Luke last summer, just the smell of lemon was enough to make me sick. Lemon cookies were out of the question.
It didn’t start that way, though. I had heard that lemon was a smell that actually helped ease nausea in pregnant women, so I worked on a string of lemon recipes. I developed recipes for lemonade, lemon brownies, lemon cupcakes, and lemon curd one after the other. And by the time I started filming these recipes, I couldn’t stomach the scent of lemon (but it was too late and we had to finish filming!). I made it through the videos (poor Zach had to listen to me whine and complain the whole time) and stayed as far away from lemon as I could for months even after Luke was born.
My appetite for it is finally coming back (and I recently shared my lemon poppy seed muffins) and I thought one of my oldest cookie recipes on the blog (I first published a recipe for lemon cookies back in 2016!) needed a refresh and a facelift.
What You Need:
This is just an overview of the ingredients chosen and the rationale for those of you who are interested in the chemistry and thought process behind my lemon cookies. Please scroll down to the recipe card for the full list of ingredients, measurements, method, and a video.
- Flour. All-purpose, or “plain” flour should be used here. I do not have any suggestions for substituting self-rising flour, unfortunately.
- Sugar. I use all granulated sugar, I found that brown sugar bullied the lemon flavor too much for my liking.
- Butter. I use unsalted butter and then add salt. Make sure your butter is softened before beginning so that it will cream nicely with the sugar.
- Lemon zest. You’ll need 2 ½ Tablespoons and we’ll cream the zest with the butter and sugar to release the oils and give our lemon cookies a stronger lemon flavor. I’ve found I need two lemons to get enough zest. One of the lemons tried to roll out of my ingredient photo above, but it’s there in the corner!
- Eggs. We’re using one egg and one egg yolk. The extra yolk helps make for a chewier, softer, and richer cookie.
- Extracts. Lemon extract allows for a stronger lemon flavor; I unfortunately found that the lemon zest alone wasn’t sufficient to flavor the cookies. I also like to use just a small splash of vanilla extract, though this is optional.
- Cornstarch helps keep the cookies soft and chewy and keeps them from spreading too much on the baking sheet.
- Baking soda and cream of tartar give the cookies their crinkly tops, just the right amount of spread, and deepens the tangy lemon flavor.
- Powdered sugar. I roll the cookie dough through this before baking.
I do recommend using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer to make this dough. Creaming the butter, sugar, and lemon zest could be done by hand, but it’s quite the arm workout and is a task to get all of the ingredients as well-combined as they need to be.
Making in Advance
Lemon cookie dough can be made up to 5 days in advance. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to bake. Roll cookies in powdered sugar just before baking (not before refrigerating).
A Few Tips:
- Measure your flour properly. This is one of the most important tips that I can give anyone baking any recipe that uses flour, not just lemon cookies. If the flour is not measured properly the cookie dough is liable to become dry and crumbly. Which means dry cookies.
- Butter should softened, but not so soft that it is melt-y or greasy. If it’s too soft, it can make your cookie dough too sticky and your cookies more likely to spread too much. This can usually be saved if you chill the dough, but one thing I love about this recipe is that there’s no chilling required.
- Never place cookie dough on a hot cookie sheet. Always allow baking sheets to cool completely before adding the dough.
- Bake one cookie sheet at a time in the center rack of your oven. All of my recipes (and most recipes, really) should be baked in the center of the oven unless otherwise indicated.
- Cookies should be soft and almost seem under-baked when they come out of the oven. They’ll finish baking while they cool on the cookie sheet. This keeps them nice and soft, even once they’ve cooled.
- For an extra pop of lemon flavor, you can skip the powdered sugar and instead drizzle these cookies with the same glaze that I use on my lemon brownies after they finish baking.
I also recommend watching my video on how to make lemon cookies in the recipe card!
More Recipes You Might Enjoy:
Enjoy! Be sure to check out the how-to video in the post!
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature (226g)
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar (300g)
- 2 ½ Tablespoons lemon zest¹
- 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk room temperature preferred
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose plain flour (375g)
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Powdered sugar for rolling cookies about ½ cup or (70g)
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl using an electric mixer (or use a stand mixer!), combine butter, sugar, and lemon zest. Beat until creamy and well-combined.
- Stir in egg and egg yolk, lemon extract, and vanilla extract until completely combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.
- Gradually (with mixer on low-speed), add flour mixture to butter mixture until completely combined. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure all ingredients are completely incorporated.
- Scoop cookie dough by level 1 ½ Tablespoon-sized scoop and roll between your palms until you have a smooth ball. Roll ball through powdered sugar and place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing cookies at least 2” apart.
- Bake on 350F for 9-11 minutes and allow to cool completely on baking sheet. Enjoy!
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
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I originally published a lemon cookie recipe back in July of 2016. This is an improved version and the photos, text and recipe have been updated and a video has been added.